Celebrity Deaths Show the Opioid Crisis Has Not Gone Away

It was just a matter of time before I got caught and my business ended up on the cover of a tabloid or I went to jail, or worse, I ended up dead.” ~ Michael K. Williams

When he spoke candidly about his struggles with substance abuse back in 2012, actor Michael K. Williams had no idea how tragically prophetic his words would turn out to be. But on September 6, 2021, Williams, the star of The Wire and Lovecraft Country, died in his Brooklyn apartment of a suspected fentanyl overdose. He was only 54 years old.

Just the day before, 42-year-old stand-up comedian Fuquan Johnson and two other people died in Los Angeles after ingesting cocaine that was laced with fentanyl. A fourth person, comedienne Kate Quigly, was hospitalized in critical condition.

Fellow comedian Ron G., a friend of Johnson’s, said, “He was one of those bright spots in the community where everybody knew…you always knew he was gonna smile at you, you always knew he was gonna say something nice.

The fact that these deaths occurred on opposite coasts but involved the same substance speaks volumes. While it may have been overshadowed by the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the opioid crisis has not gone away.

In fact, the opposite is true. Driven by the super-powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl, the overdose epidemic is worse than ever. There were over 93,000 drug deaths in America in 2020, an alarming near-30% spike over 2019.
In California, the year-over-year increase is greater than 40%.

Why Is This Happening?

The surge in overdose deaths and the emergence of fentanyl as the deadliest drug in America are separate, but related issues.

First, more people than ever are turning to alcohol and drugs in an attempt to cope with the stress, loneliness, uncertainty, depression, and boredom caused by the pandemic. Worsened mental health and increased substance abuse lead to “deaths of despair“.

Second, drug cartels now routinely cut or substitute other drugs with fentanyl to boost potency and to cut costs. Because it is completely synthetic and wholly manufactured in a laboratory, fentanyl is much cheaper to produce, requiring less time, land resources, and manpower.

Third, because fentanyl is indistinguishable from other drugs without a chemical test, it is now being used with or in place of other non-opioid drugs, such as Xanax, methamphetamine, or, as with Fuquan Johnson and the others, cocaine. Users are typically completely unaware of the dangerous substitution.

Lacing or swapping other drugs with fentanyl seriously complicates emergency treatment during an overdose. For example, if responders see what looks to be powder and paraphernalia around someone who says they have used cocaine, they might not immediately suspect a fentanyl overdose. That could mean a crucial delay in administering Narcan, the life-saving opioid reversal medication.

What Can Be Done?

Counterfeit drugs containing fentanyl are now terrifyingly common. Quite literally, taking ANY drug is a game of Russian Roulette where every chamber is loaded. The best, in fact, the ONLY way to protect yourself from a potentially fatal fentanyl overdose is to stop using all illicit drugs.

Unfortunately, because chemical dependency is so powerful, that may be easier said than done on your own. If you are finding it too difficult to quit using drugs, then the best thing you can do to protect your health, future, and possibly your life is to seek specialized professional help.

If you live in Southern California, your top resource is Lasting Recovery, the oldest and most trusted outpatient rehab program in San Diego. For almost 20 years, Lasting Recovery has used an evidence-based and medically supervised approach to treatment that helps you safely and successfully regain your sobriety.

Currently, Lasting Recovery is offering virtual addiction treatment, in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols. This allows you to receive the services you need from the safety and privacy of your own home, via a secure Internet connection.

For more information, or for a confidential assessment, contact lasting Recovery TODAY.

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